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[casi] Carter Says Iraq Poses 'No Current Danger' to U.S.

Thu Sep 5,10:58 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former President Jimmy Carter, warning against a unilateral U.S. war against 
Iraq, said on Thursday that Baghdad poses "no current danger to the United States," and also 
criticized America's drift away from its historical role as a global champion of human rights.

Carter, a Democrat who served as U.S. president from 1977 to 1981, said that while Republican 
President Bush ( news - web sites) has reserved judgement, Vice President Dick Cheney ( news - web 
sites) and other top administration officials point to "a devastating threat from Iraq's weapons of 
mass destruction," and vow to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with or without support from 

"As has been emphasized vigorously by foreign allies and by responsible leaders of former 
administrations and incumbent officeholders, there is no current danger to the United States from 
Baghdad," Carter wrote in an opinion piece published in The Washington Post.

"We cannot ignore the development of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, but a unilateral war 
with Iraq is not the answer. There is an urgent need for U.N. action to force unrestricted 
(weapons) inspections in Iraq. But perhaps deliberately so, this has become less likely as we 
alienate our necessary allies," Carter added.

Carter also criticized America's move away from its role as a champion of human rights and a 
respected leader in the community of nations, arguing that "belligerent and divisive voices now 
seem to be dominant in Washington."

"Formerly admired almost universally as the pre-eminent champion of human rights, our country has 
become the foremost target of respected international organizations concerned about these basic 
principles of democratic life," Carter said.

"We have ignored or condoned abuses in nations that support our anti-terrorism effort, while 
detaining American citizens as 'enemy combatants,' incarcerating them secretly and indefinitely 
without their being charged with any crime or having the right to legal counsel," he added.


Some of the positions "seem to be developing from a core group of conservatives who are trying to 
realize long pent-up ambitions under the cover of the proclaimed war against terrorism," Carter 

"Pre-emptory rejections of nuclear arms agreements, the biological weapons convention, environment 
protection, anti-torture proposals and punishment of war criminals have sometimes been combined 
with economic threat against those who might disagree with us," Carter wrote. "The unilateral acts 
and assertion increasingly isolate the United States from the very nations needed to join in 
combating terrorism."

He also lamented that the United States was "abandoning any sponsorship of substantive negotiations 
between Palestinians and Israelis."

In a separate development, a leading human rights group touched on some of the same issues 
mentioned by Carter in criticizing tactics used by the U.S. government in the wake of the Sept. 11 

The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights said in a 75-page report released on Thursday that since 
last Sept. 11, the government has denied some detainees access to lawyers, restricted public access 
to information, expanded search and seizure powers and broadened powers to intercept communications 
-- all in the name of national security.

"Secrecy and lack of debate has been a particularly acute problem," the New York-based activist 
group said.

"As changes have been made, and concerns raised -- by members of Congress across the political 
spectrum and by other mainstream voices -- the attorney general (John Ashcroft) or other 
administration officials have all too often dismissed them as irrelevant, harmful to the war 
against terrorism or even disloyal."

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